Apply To Law School Now or Wait for Your December LSAT Score?

Law School Expert Blog

Planning to apply to some schools with your October LSAT score but retake the LSAT on December 1 for other schools? Don’t do it. To tell you why, I’m about to go “Reese Witherspoon” on you, and not from the overused Legally Blonde, she of the 180 LSAT, but back to my roots in Alabama: “You can’t ride two horses with one ass, Sugarbean.”

Either you feel confident in your abilities to improve your LSAT score in December, or you don’t. If you don’t, then don’t retake the LSAT: there isn’t time to learn a new strategy or completely change how you approach the test, unless you have nothing else to do in the next few weeks (including law school applications!). If you do feel confident that you can do better on the December LSAT, then hold off applying until then.

Here are 4 reasons why:

1. You only have 3.5 weeks before the December LSAT. Prioritization dictates that the LSAT should come first. Even if your personal statement, resume, and other materials are done and ready to go, it still takes time to put applications together and submit them and you have very limited time right now.

2. Law schools don’t make decisions (on purpose) on your file with pending LSAT scores. They’re just going to hold on to your application anyway.

3. In a year when applications are down, the pressure to apply in November is gone. Law schools are not going to be filling up their classes with qualified applicants in the fall. My applicants who submitted their applications in early January last year were just as successful in getting into reach schools as those who had applied in November. It’s better to have the higher LSAT score and apply in early January than to apply now with what you have.

4. You can’t make an argument in an LSAT addendum without knowing all of the facts. You can’t spin your previous LSAT performance without knowing your final score. For example, if you talk about how sick you were during the October LSAT, then you get the same or very similar score in December, it sounds pretty lame that you blamed a sickness in October. Wait until you have your facts in front of you so you know whether (and how) to make a persuasive argument that your lower LSAT score should be discounted.

“You Can’t Ride Two Horses With One Ass, Sugarbean.”

66 Responses

  1. Hi Ann,

    I received a fee waiver today from William & Mary. I am pretty far below their numbers, so I do not think the fee waiver was merit based. I don’t know if I should apply…Is there any correlation between my chances and them sending me a fee waiver? I really don’t want to waste my time if I have a zero chance.


  2. MS, Law schools try to boost application #s, so they can lower their acceptance rates… all part of the rankings game. That being said, if you were going to apply there anyway, it’s worth taking them up on the free application.

  3. Ann,

    I am planning to retake the December LSAT to boost my chances at scholarship money– not on admission. My current numbers (161, 3.73) are above median and/or upper quartile at my safety and target schools. Would you recommend applying now and notifying the schools of the higher score when I receive it or should I wait for the entire package to be complete in early January?


    1. Hi SH. That sounds like a good plan – you can apply now and then update the schools with the new score (unless it takes time away from studying – in which case you can apply in December). Beware, some schools may wait to make a decision until they have your new score, and that’s ok too.

  4. Hi Ann, love the blog…….was just wondering if I tell a law school to go ahead and review my application with my October score despite the fact that I’m taking it again in December, will they hold that against me when reviewing the application as they are noticeably not my first choice? More specifically Penn and NYU, thanks in advance!

  5. Hi Ann,

    I’m still in the decision-making process about even applying to law school. I’m about half-way through your book and so far it’s been very helpful.

    I’m a junior Biology/Chemistry major who spent 3 years as a pre-dent before realizing I hate science, miss writing and discussion, and really don’t want to go to dental school. My advisor suggested looking into law school, so here I am.

    My question: I took the June 2007 LSAT yesterday (without any preparation/study), just to get an idea of where I stood, and scored a 170. What do you think is the possibility of improving that score enough in the months between now and June 2013 to be competitive at top-tier schools? I know there are other factors – GPA, major, personal statements, LORs, etc (which I will likely invest in your services for if I do decide to apply) – but I’m just trying to get an idea of how much improvement can be reasonably expected with personal study.

    1. Hi Stacy,
      I’m so happy the book has been helpful to you.
      You scored a 170 without any prep??? Holy Moly. I’m officially impressed. That’s so crazy!!! Take another practice test to make sure it’s not a fluke (kidding!)
      You have tons of potential on the LSAT and I would be happy to talk with you any time about the other issues that you raised.

  6. Hi Ann,

    Great to read this blog because I was wondering the exact same question! To give you an idea where I stand, I scored a 169 on the October 2012 test, have a 3.86 GPA, and have been working for a few years out of college. My LSAT score was lower than my average so I retook it this past week and am pretty confident I scored in the mid 170s. Ideally I would love to go to any of the top schools – HYS, UChicago, NYU, Columbia – but am also wondering if I should apply now (my application is ready) or wait to see my Dec. score. I feel like my 169 score will put me in their range (although def on the lower end), and at least I can be on their radar, rather than wait a whole extra month. Do you think it can hurt me to apply early? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Aaron,
      I’m so glad the blog post was helpful to you. You have great stats – I’ve had clients admitted to all of those schools with your #s. They won’t review your applications with a pending LSAT score, but since your schools list isn’t going to change with the new LSAT, go ahead and get applications underway.

      1. Hi Ann,

        Great to hear from you! It’s refreshing to see someone so knowledgeable so accessible. I just wanted to follow up with you based on what I was reading above. If I apply now, and my score later goes up, do I not need to worry about an addendum? And if law schools wait anyway, is it better to apply later so their first impression of me is with my higher (hopefully) score? Thanks!

        1. Hi Aaron, It’s a pleasure. You won’t need an addendum unless your score improves by more than 3 points. And then you can just email it to the schools.
          They won’t review your application with a pending score (unless they do so by mistake, which a certain Top 5 does on occasion).

  7. Hey Ann, I just came across your site and there is a ton of useful information!! I wish I had found you a little bit earlier, but I had a quick question. I took the December LSAT and am now just wrapping up all my apps, in the section where it has your LSAT score I indicated that I took the Dec test yet the score is absent. Do I still have to write them an email telling them to hold on until my December LSAT is released to review my app or is it kind of implied since the score for Dec is empty at the moment? I think emailing 25+ schools the same email might become redundant. Thanks for your help!

  8. Hi Ann–quick question. I was reading over your book and you say “any application submitted after the first of January is begging to be a waitlist candidate at best unless it’s a safety school.” But December scores won’t be released until Jan. 2nd (earliest) and you seem to say on this site that the December LSAT is not a lost cause. I’m waiting for my December LSAT score, and will have everything set to go for when it’s released, but if it’s a long shot for most schools, I’d consider waiting until next year to submit my applications. Could you explain?



    1. Jon,
      This is exactly why I’m re-writing the book! Since its publication, applications are down 45% and the LSAT schedule (and score release dates) have changed. But I still believe you should be submitting all applications by January 15th. I hope this helps.

  9. Hello, I took the December LSAT and haven’t received my score yet. I wanted to know if it was better to go ahead and apply to school or wait until I see my score and attach an addendum if necessary. Please advise in this regard.

    1. Hi Victoria, you can apply now but you can’t write an addendum about an LSAT score that doesn’t yet exist…

  10. Hi Ann,

    Thank you for your blog. It has really been helpful throughout my law school application process. I applied to a number of law schools in 2011 with a 147 and a 3.9 gpa and in the end I was denied by every single one. I was wait listed at three (Villanova, USF, and Emory), but was denied admission to those as well after a long battle with their admissions offices over the summer. From what I know now and after reading your blog, I am surprised that I was even fortunate enough to have been wait-listed at those schools. I had an extremely low LSAT score and the majority of my schools didn’t notify me that my apps were fully completed until early February (way behind the cycle schedule for rolling admissions).

    I took a completely different approach this time. I retook the Dec. 2012 LSAT and I am currently waiting for my score. I also included an updated resume, new personal statement, diversity statement, and addendum (I kept my same recommenders), and I made sure my apps were polished and completed by late October. I submitted them also in early November without my Dec. LSAT score. I believe I scored way higher this time around than last year, and I wanted to know if you had any realistic projections.

    Will the admissions council still review the rest of my application without my December LSAT score? Or do they wait to have my latest score to even start to look at my application? If so, would I still a little late for rolling admissions/at a disadvantage in the cycle? Should I reapply to those schools that I was waitlisted at? Will they know that I was at one time waitlisted by their school? And when should I apply for financial aid, after or before I get an acceptance letter?

    Any advice or realistic projections from you would be greatly appreciated! THanks again and Happy Holidays!


    1. Max, I’m so glad the blog has been helpful.
      First, it sounds like you did everything right this cycle. Schools won’t review your application with a pending score, no would you want them to. You’ll be at no disadvantage time-wise if that’s the last thing they are waiting for.
      They will know you were waitlisted last year, yes.

      1. Thank you for your response, Ann! It’s good to know that there are people out there (like yourself) who are invested in others’ success. Happy New Year!

  11. Hey Ann,

    Thanks for all your great advice! I’m enjoying your book and blog.

    I went ahead and submitted my applications prior to getting my December LSAT score. Kinda risky, but an admissions guy at a school I’m hoping to get into suggested I go ahead and get my application into the stack. Anyways, I ended up going pretty well. I got a 160. But, I was wondering, do I need to do anything extra to get my score sent to the schools or will they be automatically transmitted?


    1. Hi Alexa,
      Your score will go to the law school automatically – you should keep an eye on your application status and watch for it to become “complete”. Good luck!

  12. Hi Ann,
    I took the LSAT twice and scored 140. I don’t do well on standardized testing. I have a 3.46 cumulative GPA from Lewis University. I have a double major (Political Science and Criminal Justice). I would like to apply to some Law schools this year if I have any chance of being accepted. I am also willing to consider a part time program. What do you advise me to do at this point? Please send your response to my e-mail. Thank you.

  13. Hi Anne,

    I just graduated in December and am taking the LSAT in Feb. Do you think it is probably too late to apply to law school for this coming fall? I have a 3.89 GPA from U of Maryland but am honestly a bad standardized test taker. Should I even apply or wait for next year? Thanks.

    1. HJD, I think you are probably better off applying early for next year if your LSAT is low for the schools you are applying to.

  14. HEY! I need help! Ive been studying for the lsats and I finally took it last week. we had a storm and it was cancelled. My gpa is low, a 2.98, and I still have not gotten a score for the test, but I think I bombed it and did not score more than a 145. what do I do besides get back to the books and try to get a higher score for the june test? i was trying to start in the fall and i am in the middle of the application process… i dont think fall is going to happen.


    1. Hi Nancy,
      Those storms have been such a pain this year.
      You need to wait. You need to really prep for the June LSAT. This year is not the right timing for you.

  15. Hi Anne,

    Question about a topic I did not see anywhere in your book. I was just admitted to a law school but was not given any scholarship money. Are you able to actually take the June LSAT to try to improve your score and if you do go to the school and use this to try to gain scholarship money? Obviously you would need to put down your initial seat deposit in the meantime but I didn’t know if this could possible work? Not sure I am sold on taking on a full sticker price at the school.

    Thanks for your help,

    1. I Patrick,
      You can try to work the June LSAT into a scholarship negotiation but by the time you get your score in July it’s a bit late….. You may decide you improved so much that you want to wait a year and reapply.

  16. Hi Ann,
    I’m right now in my third year of my undergrad, barely scraping with a 3.0 gpa…I don’t really know if I want to pursue law school now after graduating. Maybe in a year or two. Should I still take the summer LSAT or October one coming up?

    1. Jessie, There’s no reason to take the LSAT unless you’re sure about going to law school. Maybe worry about your grades right now and give yourself a chance to bring up your GPA. You can always take the LSAT after you graduate.

  17. Hi Ann,

    I am taking the LSAT this weekend and I have been scoring 150-160 on practice tests along with a 3.74 GPA. I am thinking about applying to Georgia State which has an LSAT range (25%-75%) of 156-161 and a GPA range of 3.19-3.60. I just wanted to see if you thought I should go ahead and apply if I score toward the bottom of their range or even 2-3 points lower. I could retake again in February as well, but obviously I would like to avoid doing that. If I did apply with a lower score and was rejected with my September score, could I take the February LSAT, hopefully score higher, then reapply in the same cycle?

    1. Hi Ethan,
      That’s a pretty big range on the LSAT. How have you been doing on the last 3-5 practice tests you’ve taken?
      February timing and reapplying for the same cycle is rough – not a good plan. Better to wait and take in December (or retake in December if you take the test this weekend) and apply in early January.

      1. Thanks for the help. Lately have have scored 155-160 range. I will probably take your advice and wait to apply if I do not have a score close to the 75th percentile, but what are the chances I could get in with something below the 25th percentile (154 or 155)?

  18. Hell Ann,

    I know this will be a while since your last comment but I hope you see it! I will be applying to law schools this fall and am in the process of studying for the October LSAT, which I hope to do well on, but am confident with my current GPA and at least scoring a 160 (at least 4 of my school list only require a 150-155) I can get into those schools. However, for two of my reach schools, they take a very small percentage of people with my GPA, regardless of getting a 160 or higher on the LSAT, and I am worried that I do not have a chance. I am very likely to improve my GPA by one whole point by the time grades are in Dec. 15, but that still puts me well below the range where my reach schools really start admitting students. Do you think it is worth it to me, since I would not increase relatively that much GPA-wise, to apply earlier in November when there are more spots available or wait to increase it one whole point when there are relatively less spots open for admission? I know this is long and complicated, but I’d really love to know what you think!

    1. Hi Molly,
      I’m not always slow on the blog comments, I promise!
      I think you should apply earlier and update schools on your improved grades when you received them. You won’t have decisions back before your grades are in. I hope this helps!

  19. Hey ann, I was reading through your different posts and found them ALL to be helpful. Even your facebook page. .

    I’m in the process of reapplying after being denied fo multiple law schools from the last cycle.

    My gpa is a 3.78 and My previous lsat score is a 143. ( I was taking 7 classes to graduate early while having four jobs and prepping for the lsat, BAD decision) anyways I decided to study for 6 hrs a day for the last four months and finally reached 159 yesterday on a prep test. Should I wait to apply after my score comes in october ? or send in my applications and ask them to wait for my updated score.

    Also I have been editing my personal statment for months but it still has the same context ? is that going to be a problem?

    1. Hi Val, I’m glad the FB and blog has been helping you.
      I would wait to submit applications until you have your October score so you have enough information for your LSAT addendum.
      I can’t answer the personal statement question without having seen it – sorry!

  20. Hey Ann,

    I’ve been reading through all the questions and answers throughout the blog and think it’s wonderful that you’ve responded to each and every inquiry. I’m hoping you can do the same for me!

    I graduated in May 2015 and took the LSAT in February 2015 (I scored a 151). I’m on the verge of retaking it October 3rd, reason being is my first test I didn’t prepare and figured with preparation I would do better this time around. I’m actually very nervous about taking it again as I would hate to get a lower score and I am considerably more anxious/nervous (life factors have changed, been prescribed anti-anxiety medication, many visits and tests with cardiologist) this time around than the first time despite having been self-studying for countless hours this last month all while holding down a full time job.

    My question is: can I apply for law schools with my existing LSAT score (151), leave no indication on the application that I am retaking the test and then once I receive my new score and depending on the score I receive, reapply in the same admissions cycle to the same schools but this time with my new LSAT score there for consideration. (The way I see it this safeguards me against a lower LSAT score hurting me in the event that I do score lower than my previous score. It would also, in my mind, preserve the score I have now and lock in an admission acceptance with it if I am so accepted without having the other LSAT score risk factor involved).

    I did also consider not doing this and then applying once I get my new score and if I don’t do too hot I can always do an addendum to explain the issues I’m currently undergoing because I have been preparing and feel I could improve on my first score by at least five points. I truly just want to equip myself with the best options that I can have available to me.

    Any insight and direction you can provide will be greatly appreciated!

  21. Hi Ann,

    Your blog is extremely helpful! I just took the October LSAT and scored a 170, which isn’t a bad score, but I’m trying to get a full ride (or close) to a top-ranked school. I’ve been scoring 175 consistently on PT’s, so I know I can do better. I registered for the December test, but most of my applications are ready to be sent out now. Should I send them with just the October score so that I at least get in, and then once the December score shows up, try to use the new score for increased scholarship consideration? Or would it be better just to wait until the Dec scores come out and then send it?

    Thank you!!

    1. Liz,
      Glad it’s helpful. Hold on for your new score and apply in early January. You’ll be better off in most cases if you’re very confident about your ability to improve the score.

  22. Hi Ann,

    I’m a big fan of yours and all the help you provide. I love when you’re featured on the Thinking LSAT and I think it’s huge how much you do for students free of charge.

    I’ve become one of the many desperate applicants seeking your advice.

    I have a 3.75 undergrad GPA from a top 40 school, and just scored a 163 on the October LSAT. In the weeks leading up to the test, I was pretty consistently scoring between 163-167, with near-perfect scores on Logical Reasoning. On one of the reasoning sections on the real thing, I missed one question, on the other (first section) I somehow missed eight. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, I know I can pull off a 166ish. This would put me in range for schools in the 5-20 ranking range, and my current GPA and score would still keep me just barely in range for some of those, but at the lower 25th quartile for most.

    What I’m asking is whether I should take the December test and wait until January to apply. My applications are pretty much ready, I have strong recommenders, and hopefully strong statement(s). I also have quite a bit of experience in the legal field on my resume. I know you mention that because application rates have decreased, waiting until January isn’t a death sentence anymore. But my current thought process is that I should just submit with what I have now (early November), and if I don’t get into the schools I want, take the test one more time next year (under less rushed conditions) and then be able to submit my applications come September 1st/15th for the next cycle. I took the test once before my 163 and cancelled, so I only have one more take for the three within the two years and I was thinking this would be the best way to use it. This way, for both cycles, I can know that if I’m not getting accepted, it doesn’t have to do with when I apply.

    Please help!

    I understand the December LSAT registration deadline is today — I can register late if you feel strongly that that’s my best option. Thanks in advance

    1. Benny, thanks for the nice comments! I’m glad the advice has been helpful to you.
      If you can pull it off, you sound like you should take the test in December and wait until January. Don’t submit applications yet – wait til January.
      If you feel you can’t get your best score in just 5 weeks, then apply now with what you have and see if you get results you’re happy with and decide what to do about next year.

  23. Hi Anne!

    Absolutely love your blog! It has been so helpful!

    I just received my Sept 2016 LSAT score and would love your advice. All of my practice tests were in the 158-164 range. I took the LSAT in June and got a 153. I just got my September LSAT score and it is a heartbreaking 152. That is lower than my diagnostic score from March.

    Do you think I should I just apply now or should I try again in December? It would be my third time taking it (lame, I know). Also, could I apply to my safety schools with my Sept. and June LSAT now and then take the December LSAT and use that score to apply to my reach schools?

    1. Hi Kris,
      I’m so happy the blog has been helpful to you.
      It sounds like you’re a good candidate to take it again in December. I would do so, then wait and apply in early January.

  24. Hey Ann,

    I’m glad I found this page because I really need some advice. I am now a full year out of college, and during college I was actually premed. I took the MCAT and was going to apply to med school but my heart was never in it! I had always been interested in law school, so I started meeting with various lawyers and I realized I could see myself pursuing that. I have a 3.4 gpa and I have taken the LSAT twice. My first test was the June 2016 one, in which I scored a 152, and then a 154 on the September 2016. I’m so frustrated that I did not improve as much as I felt I had.

    My problem now is, aside from my personal statement, my apps are ready. Do i retake the December test or apply now? I’m not planning on applying to any top tier schools, because I know that’s out of my reach, but I am hoping I’d get admission somewhere relatively good? Thoughts?

    1. JS, if you’re retaking the LSAT in December then hold your applications. But only retake if you eel it’s likely you’ll go up at least 3 points. Otherwise, move forward now.

  25. Hi Ann:

    So it looks like I’m going to get a 3.9-4.0 this semester. However I already requested my transcripts and got them. I’m not turning in my application until January because I’m retaking the LSAT in December. So my question is, is it worth it for me to resubmit my transcript with the higher GPA? I’m at a 3.55 now. My only hesitation is knowing my transcript won’t come in until early January, possibly after my LSAT score. Will that boost my application?

    Thank you


  26. Hi Ann,

    I really appreciate the help that you are supporting to everyone whose pursuing law school. It helped me immensely and I’m sure it did for others as well.

    I took the LSAT in September and got a 150, and I’m planning to take it again in December.

    My question is, can you apply now with a September LSAT score and then reapply in January to the same school with a new December LSAT score? The reason why I want to apply now is to safeguard some spots with my existing LSAT score. I hope though that my LSAT score will improve in the December LSAT, (which I’m fairly sure that it will) and use that score to get more scholarship out of the same or other potential law schools.

    If this is possible, how should I approach this strategy? (My thought is to apply now to some schools, and then reapply again with my December LSAT score in January to the same schools.)

    I hope I made myself clear to you, and please let me know what you think.

    Thank you so much.

    James Kang

  27. Hi Ann,
    Love your blog, very helpful !

    My son scored 168 on October LSAT, and send his application to Fordham LAW …
    Later he decided to take December LSAT (he was registered) …
    He actually wants Fordham to process his application with existing October LSAT, regardless of future December upcoming score.

    Will Fordham go ahead and process it with some decision, or Forham will wait for December score …Note that he did not mention in application about any future tests (as he was not sure if he is going to take December test).

    1. Zinada, Fordham can choose its own policy about whether to wait for the December score. It would be on his LSAC report that he took December so they may choose to hold the application. He can call them if he’d like them not to wait, but it’s their choice.

  28. Hi Ann,

    I have a 3.86 GPA and a December LSAT score of 156. I took the test in September and received a 148, so I had a good bit of improvement in between. i am registered to take the February test as well. I am not sure if I should go ahead and submit all applications, however only tell reach schools that I am retaking and not tell my safety schools that I am retaking to secure a spot. If I decide to do this and score better than 156 on the February test, could I then send that score to my safety schools that I did not tell I was retaking for scholarship purposes even if they have already accepted me or haven’t yet made a decision? What do you think I should do?

      1. Ann,

        I have a 4.0 GPA in English and Political science, but an LSAT at the 25th percentile of my target schools. I am retaking the LSAT in September, but assuming I do not get a score at or above the median for my target schools on the retake, would it be wise to take the LSAT a third time in December and submit my application in January, or should I submit my application before the December retake and then send the score later.

        I am wondering if letting the schools see my 4.0 early and informing them that I am retaking the LSAT will be better than waiting for a higher score and submitting it all late.

        1. Hi Sam, Take your September LSAT then apply. Only retake in December if you feel very confident in your ability to improve your score by 3 or more points. I hope this helps!

  29. Hi Ann,

    Thanks so much for keeping up with this blog! I know so many people benefit from it, myself included. I’ve been looking through the other comments to get some clarification on my situation but asking you directly may be better.

    I graduated in May with a 3.69 and took both the June 2016 and September 2016 LSAT scoring a 147 and 151 respectively. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to adequately prepare both times and was unaware of it. I applied to various schools last cycle and was accepted to a couple of safety schools (with very little scholarship money) and waitlisted at my more preferred schools. I am planning to take the December 2017 LSAT (which will use up my last chance in two years) and am confident that I can significantly boost my score. My question is should I still attempt to get my applications in early (beginning of November) with the pending score and my two low scores while notifying the schools of my retake? Some of the schools on my list are ones that previously waitlisted me.

    In addition to the new score, I plan on writing a new PS and adding another strong recommender from a more recent work experience. Do you think my chances are better applying early or just waiting until my new score comes out in January to submit applications? Thank you in advance!


  30. Hi Ann,

    Thank you for your helpful blog. I was wondering whether law school applications are still low and whether applicants who apply in January fair equally with applicants who who apply in November.


  31. Hi Ann,

    I just took the December LSAT for the second time after initially taking the September 2017 LSAT. I am planning on submitting my applications in the next few days (so before I will receive my new score). On my applications I have noted that I took the September LSAT and inputted my score, and also indicated that I took the December LSAT and left that score blank. Is that sufficient to notify them to wait to review my application until that score comes in or do I need to send them an email as a reminder? Thanks for your help!

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